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R.I. Governor: First Marriage, Then Babies

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri has vetoed a bill requiring health insurers to cover infertility treatments for unmarried people, saying they shouldn't be forced to subsidize out-of-wedlock births.

The Republican governor, who opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, warned that eliminating the marriage restriction would also drive up health care costs.

"As a matter of public policy, the state should be encouraging the birth of children to two-parent families, not the reverse," he said in a written statement Thursday announcing his Wednesday veto.

Two weeks ago, Carcieri permitted another bill to become law without his signature that required insurers to increase the age cap on eligible women to 42 from 40. It also required insurers to pay for infertility treatments after a couple fails to conceive or carry a pregnancy after one year of trying, instead of two.

But Carcieri balked when Democratic Rep. Edith Ajello's bill went one step further and eliminated the marriage requirement.

Ajello, a prominent supporter of gay marriage, said her legislation could benefit heterosexual couples who choose not to wed, lesbian couples barred from marrying in Rhode Island and single women. She said infertility treatment can cost as much as $20,000, making it prohibitively expensive without insurance coverage.

"I do think it's an issue of civil rights, of discrimination, of not looking at people with an equal eye," Ajello said. "I think we get into a very potentially dangerous situation when we decide who should have children and who shouldn't."
By Ray Henry

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